SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents, working jointly with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD) arrested Wednesday 22 individuals for trafficking firearms without a license. The arrests took place in the municipalities of Toa Alta, Toa Baja, Canovanas, Cataño, Caguas and San Juan.
Those arrested also face charges for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of a firearm with an obliterated serial number, possession of a machine gun and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. During the investigation and leading up to Wednesday’s arrests, authorities seized 35 firearms, including 20 pistols and 15 rifles, including five machine guns.
“We will vigorously prosecute those involved in the illegal sale and trafficking of firearms, which are then used in the commission of violent crimes,” said United States Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodriguez-Velez. “We will continue working with the state authorities to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals, who all too frequently endanger our community.”
“Today is a good day for the citizens of Puerto Rico as these indictments exhibit a collective effort to combat violent crime in the community. Together with the Police of Puerto Rico and HSI, we have dismantled a group dedicated to firearms trafficking in Puerto Rico,” said Ari C. Shapira, Assistant Special Agent in Charge for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Miami Field Division.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Marie Christine Amy and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Daynelle M. Alvarez-Lora are in charge of the prosecution of the cases. If convicted, the defendants face up to five years in prison for engaging in the business of dealing firearms without a license, up to 10 years for possession of a machine gun and for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and up to life in prison for possession of firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.